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7 Cases to Watch in 2020

December 26, 2019

Tal J. Lifshitz is keeping a close eye on a case before the Florida Supreme Court that will regulate a party’s ability to depose high-ranking officials in high-stakes discovery battles.

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KTT Invites you to Attend the Miami Law Class Action and Complex Litigation Forum

A Focus on the Most Current Perspectives

Now in its fourth year, the annual Miami Law Class Action and Complex Litigation Forum is an all-day event that gathers leading judges and attorneys from around the U.S. to discuss the latest topics and issues associated with multi-district litigation and complex class actions. From the Southern District of Florida, speakers include the Honorable Roy Altman, the Honorable Darrin P. Gayles, and the Honorable Robin L. Rosenberg, as well as Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge William Thomas.

An Esteemed Roster of Speakers

Four panels of distinguished judges, academics, and attorneys will discuss lessons learned from recent litigation, the pros and cons of multidistrict litigation, ethics issues in complex litigation, and hot topics in class actions and MDLs. Harley S. Tropin will lead the first panel of the day, discussing practical takeaways with attorneys and judges involved in the “New Waves of Mega Liability Litigation,” including opioids and the $400 million Jay Peak Ponzi scheme. KTT’s Benjamin J. Widlanski will also be featured, speaking during panel three on “Ethics in Private Investigations: Doing it Right.”

Harley Tropin
Ben Widlandski

“Miami is at the epicenter of many significant class action lawsuits. It is critical that Miami Law holds this conference to address the important and novel issues that regularly affect the cases in our district.”
-Harley S. Tropin

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Foundation or Fraud? That Was Something for a Bankruptcy Judge to Decide

December 9, 2019

Corali Lopez-Castro and her team led an effort successfully introducing fault-finding evidence against a debtor.

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DBR Recognizes Most Effective Lawyers for 2019

November 15, 2019

Corali Lopez-Castro was recognized along with three dozen South Florida attorneys for their exceptional achievements in the past year by the Daily Business Review.

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Miami Firm Handling Suit Against Ex-Presidente Market Owner Over Murder

October 28th, 2019

Javier A. Lopez, Evan Stroman, and Dwayne A. Robinson of Kozyak Tropin and Throckmorton in Coral Gables are preparing for a civil trial. Lopez, Stroman, and Robinson represent the Market owners widow Daisy Holcombe, who’s seeking millions in damages for wrongful death and conspiracy to commit wrongful death.

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Writing Workshop Series featuring Attorney Dwayne Robinson

Dwayne Robinson takes lead for Miami law firm Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton offering guidance in avoiding common legal writing mistakes. Known for his exceptional writing skills, he hosted a Writing Workshop at the University of Florida for law students and young lawyers.


BofA, Citizens Bank Defeat Investors’ $102M Ponzi Suit

By Hailey Konnath
October 18, 2019

A New York federal judge on Friday tossed out a suit brought by a proposed class of investors claiming Bank of America and Citizens Bank facilitated a $102 million Ponzi scheme, finding the investors hadn’t plausibly alleged the banks knew about the scheme.

Investors Mary Beth Heinert and Richard H. Schultz Jr. alleged Bank of America NA and Citizens Bank NA knew about and were responsible for the scheme because of frequent atypical transactions and suspicious activity that took place in the accounts of individuals later accused of orchestrating the scheme.

But U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer ruled Friday that none of those arguments is sufficient to plausibly claim either of the banks “had actual knowledge of the individual defendants’ actions.

“It is well settled in the Second Circuit that a bank’s negligent failure to identify warning signs of fraudulent activity, such as atypical transactions — even where such signs converge to form a veritable ‘forest of red flags’ — is insufficient to impute actual knowledge of ongoing fraud,” Judge Larimer said.

He continued, “Because plaintiffs fail to allege actual knowledge of the individual defendants’ fraudulent activities on the part of either bank, plaintiffs have failed to state a claim against them for aiding and abetting fraud.”

Counsel for the parties didn’t immediately return requests for comment late Friday.

Heinert and Schultz hit the banks with their suit in June 2018 after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched its own civil suit against Perry Santillo, Christopher Parris, Paul Anthony LaRocco, John Piccarreto and Thomas Brenner over an alleged scheme that started in 2011.

The SEC claimed the five men persuaded more than 600 people to invest in their companies, which purported to do business in real estate, stock investments and medical research. In reality, the men funneled the money into bank accounts and used it for payouts to previous investors and personal purposes, the SEC said.

Bank of America knew what the five conspirators were doing and had a duty to act on the signs of a Ponzi scheme, the investors said in their initial suit. Citizens Bank wasn’t mentioned in that suit.

However, Bank of America got discovery paused in the case after a federal judge in Florida said the bank’s dismissal arguments may have merit. In late November, Heinert and Schultz moved for voluntary dismissal of their suit.

The investors refiled their suit in New York in January, accusing both Bank of America and Citizens Bank of aiding and abetting fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy. Both banks moved for dismissal in March.

In May, Heinert and Schultz urged Judge Larimer to keep their suit alive, arguing they had sufficiently shown the banks knew about the fraud.

But Judge Larimer on Friday disagreed, shooting down their claims. He also said the banks “had no duty, and no right, to explore the source of monies deposited by their accountholders.”

“As such, plaintiffs’ aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty claims must be dismissed,” Judge Larimer said.

The investors were represented as recently as August by Benjamin Widlanski, Harley S. Tropin, Rachel Sullivan, Robert J. Neary and Tal J. Lifshitz of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton LLP, George Franjola of Gilligan Gooding Franjola & Batsel PA, and Fernando Santiago and Michael Burger of Santiago Burger LLP.

Bank of America is represented by Pamela Miller of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Citizens Bank was represented as recently as May by Pete S. Michaels and Michael E. Pastore of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC.

The case is Mary Beth Heinert et al. v. Bank of America NA et al., case number 6:19-cv-06081, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.

–Additional reporting by Reenat Sinay. Editing by Breda Lund.

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Nuñez suit could turn more banks into targets

September 8, 2019

Evan Stroman takes lead for Miami law firm Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton, which represents the plaintiffs, bases its “trafficking” argument on information from a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, where Société Générale admitted that it violated the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

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Mercedes-Benz’s Anti-Whiplash Headrests at Center of Putative Class Action Lawsuit

September 4, 2019

Benjamin Widlanksi and a team of Florida attorneys have launched a putative class action lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, claiming there’s a dangerous defect in hundreds of thousands of cars.

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Economic Eye On Cuba

August 29, 2019

SEC 10Q Filing By Carnival Corporation For Potential Impact By Libertad Act Lawsuits.

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